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The 808th Tank Destroyer Battalion

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Army Shoes & Boots

Excerpts from a statement issued June 4, 1945:

Warfare is rough on shoes. Army shoes must stand up under hard marching, mud, snow and the severities of the weather. Warfare requires a lot of shoes, and it requires stout shoes.

Recognizing this, the Army holds its requirements to the minimum. It has no stockpile of shoes, and its working reserves today are the lowest in many months'. Conservation is stressed. Soldiers are taught how to prolong the life of shoes. Mobile repair shops move up behind the fighting fronts. Facilities for completely rebuilding shoes have been set up both in this country and overseas. This program of conservation is unmatched by any organization-private or public-anywhere in the world.

The Army Requirements

As the Army grew to its present strength of 8,300,000 men, the requirements for shoe leather grew, too. As more men went overseas, living and fighting under the harsh conditions of combat areas, Army requirements rose again. As we began redeployment for the one-front war, more than 5,000,000 men were overseas.

But supplying these men is not the only military responsibility. Since November 1944, the Army has provided the Navy 100,000 pairs of Army-style shoes a month for Naval forces. The Army also has been outfitting French soldiers fighting alongside our own troops in Germany. Filipino soldiers aiding in cleaning the Japs out of the Philippines also are supplied Army shoes.

Last year 5 per cent of the Army's issue of shoes went to meet military responsibilities other than those of our own troops. This year the figure will rise to about 10 per cent.boot

The Army does not supply new shoes to German or Japanese prisoners of war or to Italian service units (former prisoners). Prisoners receive shoes that are too worn for our own soldiers. Italian service units receive rebuilt shoes.

Measuring the Requirements

Shoes of the right types and the right sizes must be available to soldiers wherever they may be situated and whenever the need arises. Yet, at the same time, stocks must be kept as low as possible.

There are two principal types of Army shoes: The standard GI service shoe, worn universally in training camps in this country and also issued overseas; and the combat boot, made with a higher top, and issued only for overseas use. The higher top replaces the legging. Together, these models account for almost 80 per cent of all Army shoes.

Altogether the Army has thirty different types of footwear to meet varying requirements. More than twenty types require leather in substantial quantities. The reason for the many types is obvious. A soldier stalking a Jap in a tropical jungle would be a sorry spectacle if shod in the same footwear he would have worn in the snow and cold of the Aleutians. Other models range from paratroopers boots to hip boots, and from shoe packs to women’s shoes for Army nurses at base hospitals.

At induction our soldiers received 2 pairs. Both pairs would be resoled twice before replaced.

The rate at which shoes have to be replaced with new or rebuilt shoes varies widely under diverse climatic conditions.

The replacement rate is not constant. It varies with the terrain, the weather and the type of warfare, and many other factors. It must be estimated before troops even land on new territory. It must be revised constantly to reflect actual requirements. A year ago in the European Theatre of Operations each soldier required, on the average, two new pairs a year. By the spring of 1945, this requirement had doubled.

The distribution system for supplying soldiers at fighting fronts is like a pipeline. It must be kept filled if supplies fed in at one end are to be delivered steadily and on schedule at the other. To keep the pipeline filled, shoes must be bought well in advance of the day that GI Joe, just back from the front, walks into a supply installation and draws a pair of new combat boots to replace the torn, wet, shapeless pair he has had on for days, maybe even weeks.

Keeping this pipeline filled is a definite factor in setting monthly requirements. And it must be kept filled with enough widely varying sizes of shoe- from size 3 to size 15 ½; from quadruple A to sextuple E width so that every man will have the correct fit.

Working stocks must include some cushion against unexpected needs and inevitable peak demands.

After two trips to the shop for resoling, the Army shoe becomes unserviceable, although the upper is generally still in good condition. As a result, in June 1942 the Quartermaster Corps inaugurated a shoe-rebuilding program through leasing one plant and contracting for the services of another. Later similar facilities were provided overseas.

Overseas operations largely resemble those within the continental United States. Base shops have been established to handle major repair and to take care of the overflow from the mobile shops in the field; these are operated by civilian personnel, recruited and trained from the native population. On the other hand, field work is accomplished mainly by the mobile shoe repair shops, which move with the troops and are manned by military personnel.

Tens of thousands of pairs, unsuitable for military use, were shipped through the American Red Cross to Allied prisoners of war held by the enemy. Axis prisoners of war held by this country are also supplied from this type of shoe.

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